Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I haven't been blogging a lot.  I have been overwhelmed with getting the holiday organized and packing up to go to Perth for Christmas.  It has been 8 years since I have had Christmas in Australia and all of my siblings, their children and my parents are here with me.  The weather is divine and we are all thrilled to have the next three weeks together.

I am now on the other side of the world but my heart is still breaking for Sandy Hook.  It is not something you can leave behind. Everyone here is very sad for those affected by the grave atrocity. I wake up and still am in denial that this happened.  I just can't comprehend the horror of it. The devastating heartbreak is just too much.

Now I am trying to concentrate on being in the moment.  I don't want to move on. And I want to truly appreciate every moment I am here.

This is my beautiful niece Cezanne who is 3 years old and our little joy.  She is extremely loving and her older cousins adore her.

We woke up early this morning (4:30am) and went to the beach.

Claire had been craving sausages and toast from this breakfast place on the beach...so we went.

It is extremely relaxing here.  Claire has spent time explaining to her aunty how to use Instagram.

Tristan has been playing  Minecraft with his cousin, Hugo. ( I know...surprise, surprise)

Mostly we have been sitting about enjoying each others company.

We did run out to visit the Little Hug Workshop to get some card making supplies and reconnect with long time family friends.  Jan suggested I try a game with the children she used to play with her students as an art teacher.  I will write a blog about it as soon as I trial it as it is an art game that     reminds me of instant challenges in Destination Imagination.  We bought some beautiful cards and had a delicious lunch before coming home to friends. 

....and found (by the way) the largest paperback I have ever seen.

Each day goes so fast in Australia.  I can't appreciate the seconds enough.  I am cherishing this time....and did I mention that I saw dolphins in the Swan river out of the window as I was having my morning coffee?  Yes I did....

Friday, December 7, 2012


About a month ago, driving home from a piano lesson, Claire's phone rang.  I was listening in and she was going on and on about how she had fallen in love with the (terribly sad) story of this dog that was slated for euthanasia the next day and how she would love to rescue her.  I thought we were done for the year, having reached her goal of rescuing 10 dogs.

This poor dog, a Pitbull has scars on her face and neck, missing and broken teeth, was heart worm positive and emaciated.  She had been overbred and was perhaps even pregnant.  Everything in my body was screaming "no!", but I was hearing my girl gush with excitement and compassion for this poor dog and I held my tongue.  I had 10 solid reasons not to rescue this dog.   My husband had another 10.  He was very concerned about having a bait (?) dog in the house and exposing her to other children.

We had some intense discussions at home.  Claire was sure she could find a home for her and that we could rehabilitate her.  She would raise money to cover the vetting and she could learn about bait dogs and Molly could be an ambassador for educating people about dog fighting.  Claire wants people to know how wonderful most PItbulls are.

Molly arrived late Sunday night in the rain.  We bathed her and settled her into her crate.  She was very happy to be out of the truck and tired after her recent spay and heart worm treatment.  We just let her rest.  The next day she was off to the vet for a physical.  She had a lump looked at on her leg (hopefully a cyst or lipoma, not cancer) and 5 of her teeth need to be pulled.  It seems she may have spent her life in a crate as a breeder.  She may have been a bait dog however she only has scars on her face and neck not her whole body, so maybe she was just in a fight. She also has nerve damage to one eye which makes her tear as both eyes don't blink at the same time.  Quite a history!

But most of those issues will be resolved in a month or two and she will be ready to go to a family (or stay with us).  George adores her.  She is a very quiet dog.  I have never heard her bark and she loves making her crate cozy and surrounding herself with stuffed animals, and sleeping on them.  She is gentle and cuddly inside and outside she comes alive.  She loves the smells and newness of being outside. She wants to smell, mark and explore nonstop.  It is like a whole new world to her.

We have a family very interested in meeting her.  And we are determined to find her a loving home.  She has such unconditional love and is always cheerful despite what she has been through. and despite my initial misgivings, I think she will make a wonderful family dog.

Molly sees a trainer

You might know that Claire is an avid fan of Dogtown, a TV show about how an animal sanctuary in Utah rehabilitates their dogs and finds them forever homes.  One of the dog trainers on the show is Pat Whitacre who works at Pets Alive, an animal sanctuary in Middletown, New York.   Claire  had emailed him a few weeks back and set up a meeting so she could learn how to assess dog behavior (from the best!) and have Molly (her recent Pitbull rescue) tested to make sure she was safe to put with a foster family with children.

Claire was buzzing with excitement on the way there as she often dreams of visiting animal sanctuaries and she was excited to get ideas for her own project.

Pat explained in detail his philosophy about assessing dogs.   For our purposes he was testing to see how Molly would likely react to strangers doing typical human activities around her. He wanted to find out if Molly was food aggressive or could handle her mouth being opened, hugged or put in a crate. Reactions generally range from wanting the trainer to repeat the action to being submissive or growling to an attack.  Molly showed no aggression whatsoever with her responses ranging from friendly to a little shy.  Pat thought she was a very sweet dog that showed no signs of being a danger to a family with children.  It was a great learning experience.  I filmed a little and Pat told us some wonderful stories.

This sanctuary has up to 200 cats at a time!  They live in a house with has furniture, carpeted rests and pillow beds everywhere.  The cats looked so peaceful and happy.  I have never seen so many cats in one spot.  It was extraordinary.  I am used to seeing cats in metal cages in animal control facilities but this place seemed like cat paradise.  Almost like a retirement home for cats.  It didn't smell and it was quiet and calm.  We took Molly in there to see how she would react to cats.

Pets Alive has a different set up for their dog runs than Dogtown.  Claire could have spent hours there.  She already has a pretty fixed idea of the facility she eventually wants to set up but it was wonderful to see how it was done here.

And I couldn't resist taking a picture of the bus!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


We have been waiting for months for Claire's Wicked concert in New Canaan.  She has been practicing the songs non stop over the last few weeks and awaited this evening with trepidation.  It is nerve wrecking singing in front of an audience.  She had to wear black and braid her hair.  She sang What is this Feeling? and part of some of the other tunes.  It was lovely to see her pushing herself out of her comfort zone.  I sat with her adoring grandparents and family and we went out for gelato and a special celebratory dinner afterwards.  She was beaming.

Tomorrow she is going into the city to see Wicked on Broadway with her grandparents.  It couldn't get much better than that!  

Tristan had fun too.  He loved her concert and managed to convince his dad to buy him two gelatos.  He even managed (not surprisingly) to find a screen!